GREEK riot police fired tear gas and beat Ministry of Culture workers yesterday morning after the workers had occupied the Acropolis in Athens demanding that they be paid two years wages that they are owed, and that the sacking of 320 staff be cancelled.
Greece has seen waves of strikes and protests over austerity measures agreed by the ‘socialist’ government to secure huge bail-outs from the eurozone bankers.
Among the Greek austerity measures are a public sector pay freeze until 2014, a state pensions cut, with the contribution period up from 37 to 40 years.
The average retirement age is up from 61 to 63; with early retirement restricted, while taxes on fuel, alcohol and tobacco are up 10%.
Public sector assets are to be privatised including the Greek Railway system.
Every section of workers has become involved in strike actions, and in recent demonstrations of truck drivers, and railway workers fighting the plan to privatise the Greek railways, the working class has demanded much more decisive action.
Workers have grasped that the time has come when the Papandreou regime must be brought down by decisive action. The trade union bureaucracy has responded to this demand by saying ‘No’, and in the case of the rail trade unions, openly clashing with the workers.
The Greek workers are crying ‘forward’ while the cowardly Stalinist and social democratic trade union leaders are crying ‘back’ to episodic protest actions.
It is becoming clear that more and more rail workers faced with the privatisation of the Greek railways are in favour of bringing down the Papandreou regime and bringing in a workers and small farmers government.
The mass movement of the French workers fighting the austerity programme of the arrogant Sarkozy regime also shows a revolutionary tendency to go forward to decisive revolutionary actions to bring down the Sarkozy regime.
Tuesday’s three million strong strike saw schools and universities stopping as huge numbers of youth took their stand alongside the French working class, producing fear in the French bourgeoisie that another May and June ‘nightmare’ is at hand.
As well, the Marseille dockworkers and the Mediterranean oil terminals at Lavera and Fos-sur-Mer remain blocked by a separate strike action against government plans to privatise the ports, and the actions are ongoing
The closure has forced rationing of diesel in some French Mediterranean ports, and saw petrol stations running out of fuel.
CGT leaders at oil producers operating near Marseille warned of massive working class anger against the Sarkozy reforms and could not rule out escalating strike actions.
The French government on Thursday urged drivers not to rush to the petrol pumps, but by Wednesday night eight of France’s 12 refineries were in the course of shutting down operations.
The chairman of the oil industry association, Jean-Louis Schilansky, said on Wednesday that France’s fuel depots had enough stocks but warned that ‘If the situation continues as it is now, we’ll have to take a serious look at the problem of strategic stocks.’
Meanwhile on this side of the channel, the ruling class is getting ready to dump austerity measures onto the backs of the working class and the middle class that will make the French and Greek measures look petty, and they will invoke an enormous response. In this struggle over which class is to pay for the capitalist crisis there cannot be any compromise.
The task of the hour is to build the Fourth International, all over Europe to lead the developing socialist revolution to its victory, putting an end to capitalism in Europe.